Matt Hackmann


The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

The Corona Report - Day 1

Oh hey, look at that. The world is flying apart at the seams!

So yeah, coronavirus and/or COVID-19 and/or SARS-CoV-2 is a thing that is currently happening. For my child who may read this later while writing a report on the Great Pandemic of 2020, this is an upper respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China potentially from some highly unsanitary meat market. Lots of theories flying around about that and the secretive state that is the PRC, but we won't speculate on that here. Time will or won't tell what comes of that later.

Nah, this is just me jotting down my thoughts on a daily basis as to what I'm doing and how what may be one of the most unprecedented calamities to befall mankind (outside of war) is affecting me. Or not, because sometimes I'd rather just ignore the world.

At this point in time, the Bay Area is nearing 24 hours of "shelter in place". In a lot of ways, it's akin to when you know a giant winter storm is going to roll through and you don't expect to get to the store for several days. We expect to not really be able to go out and do anything, and indeed, measures have been put into place to encourage staying at home, or at least make it highly inconvenient to leave. Restaurants are take-out/deliver only, schools are closed, work offices are "closed", grocery stores are operating on non-standard hours. The difference between this and a snow storm is that a snow storm is an actual physical thing keeping you away from doing stuff. You can see it, you can't really get around it. Where we are now is a little more bizarre in that the virus can't be seen, you don't know who has it, and you don't even know if it will really affect one's self. It's such a curious thing to have this feeling that the world is stopped, but then go outside and the air be crisp, the sky blue, and the sun shining as if it was a happy day on the cusp of spring.

This all hit me as Kayla and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood today, escaping temporarily from our work-from-home office. The only thing that makes this extraordinary is largely a state of mind. And also, perhaps a little like a storm but in other ways not, we don't really know when this will all let up. Is there a day that the powers that be will declare everything is safe now to go back out? Will it be a rush on every restaurant and bar? Will it be a trickle of folks taking trepodatious steps back out into the world that will slowly ramp back up into whatever normal we had before?

I don't know. And I don't believe anybody really knows. This has literally never happened before and, whatever may have been close, wasn't done in a world where people can continue to almost lead normal lives at home via the Internet. In a lot of ways, this whole situation keeps reminding me of the depression (especially with the way the markets are, but more on that later). There was a day where everything changed and it had large effects for a damn long time. But, when did those people find out that everything was fucked up? We can know it now nearly instantly, but back then did people know when something was up when stores started drying up simply because trucks stopped coming in? Did they know why? How did that all propogate? Radio? Probably...

Whatever, I'm just rambling at this point. Maybe I'll ramble more tomorrow.

Maybe I can buy toilet paper tomorrow...

I'm not optimisic.